Nightswimming

It was a beautiful clear night and the full moon shone down on her, colouring her dark hair a shade of silver. She would often walk alone at night, the dark and the quiet calmed her, kept her mind from becoming too busy, too full of the things that worried her.

She slipped through the park, it was nearly midnight and the drunks had gone home. She had the park to herself.

Sure, people would be worried when they discovered her gone, her mother would panic and call the police.

But it didn't matter – this night was for her.

She slipped into the cold waters of the lake, the moonlight had turned it into a mirror and her entry cast ripples from shore to shore. She wasn't bothered by the stones on the bottom of the lake as she continued to wade out. She had kept her shoes on.

Finding the depth she started to swim – strong powerful strokes. Her muscles, initially frozen by the waters of the lake, began to warm. She was alone in the dark, water below her, the moon above.

…OR…

She had escaped from the house, her mother had locked the door but she had watched her as she hid the key. Tonight her search for death would be fulfilled.

She ran to the lake, it was peaceful here – no-one would interrupt her, no-one could stop her as she ended her pain.

She ran into the water – if she swam out to the middle she could simply let go and drift down to the bottom where she could let her lifeless body lie.

…OR…

She was a princess. All princesses need a challenge, they need a knight in shining armour to save them. If she swam out to the island in the middle of the lake someone would come and save her.

She needed saving.

…OR…

She didn't know why – She just wanted a swim.


It was after midnight and we'd been called to a woman who was swimming in the lake, the parks police in one of their final rounds of the night had spotted her. They'd pulled her out and wrapped her in a blanket. She wasn't saying much but they managed to find her mother who let them know that she had 'mental health problems'.

I asked the mother about her daughter's mental health problem, she couldn't tell me what the doctors had diagnosed. The patient just sat there, dripping wet. I asked her why she had been swimming in the lake at night.

She never answered me.

I'll never know.

16 thoughts on “Nightswimming”

  1. You have done it again Tom; a very sad story that is so beautiful to read, I think the second book will write it's self.

  2. You have a very succinct way of penning your thoughts.. Mental Health Patients – A right mixed bag eh..?

  3. There is a 'Larson' cartoon of a patient on the couch and the typical looking psychiatrist, after what has probably been a long session has written on his notepad “Just plain nuts”.

  4. “Mental Health Problems”I recently went on a job to a patient with said problems, I won't go into detail about the story that he told me as it will quite easily identify him and even if he were never to read this blog others may. Suffice to say once at hospital with said patient he spoke with me, the staff nurse in charge and the two police officers who accompanied me and my crew mate for our safety (well they followed in their patrol car but that is for another day)

    Once he had finished his story we were all in agreement, it was a very believable story, from which we are still unsure to this day if actually he was telling the truth and in fact it is everyone else in society who are classed as “normal” who indeed have mental health problems.

    Its a funny world

  5. Personally I am never sure people do things for one reason only. I know when I have been depressed or manic, (not often, thank God) several reasons like that could be cycling through my head at the same time. Probably you get confused as to which is more the “real reason” if you get locked inside your head without any reality checks talking to other people. But beautifully written.

  6. Me, I have REM Nightswimming. Matches the mood nicely, as well as the theme…I also favour a happy ending. It's my little world, I like it here, however rose tinted.

  7. Very interesting and well written post (again) Tom.It easy to have “mental health problems” considered as if its only one or two problems.

    It seems so odd that your patient did that. I rember the last contact I had with a “mental health problem”, though that was far more gorey…and not as calming as you post.

  8. This is the most intriguing comment I've ever read – it's like the start of a gripping good book, you tease!

  9. As a 28 years old female diagnosed with “bi-polar disorder” and having gone through various ECTs for a nervous breakdown, I really like the first version. So beautifully romantic and maybe morbid for some. Tried doing many stupid things in my “condition” so can totally relate … 😀

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